Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Anticipating the debate

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Abubakar Shekau says he is still leading Boko Haram

Read more

THE DEBATE

Peace at last? Colombia, FARC rebels sign historic peace accord (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Peace at last? Colombia, FARC rebels sign historic peace accord (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Mykki Blanco, Van Morrison & The Weeknd’s duo with Daft Punk

Read more

FOCUS

FRANCE 24 exclusive: The last stand for Libya’s Oil Crescent

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Greece’s minister of tourism: ‘Tourism is a government priority’

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Terrorism, strike actions and migrant crisis: Is the EU becoming less attractive to tourists?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Moody's cuts Turkey's credit rating to junk

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-04-25

Japan: at the heart of the 'red zone'

The exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear power station has an end-of-the-world feeling about it. The villages are now desolate ghost towns. Our reporters went into the heart of this post-apocalyptic danger zone.

It took a while before we dared venture into the “red zone”, the 20 km area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant. It’s the most famous and terrifying no-go area since Chernobyl. We very gradually approached the “gates of hell”. 

Our first stop was Koriyama, a town located 60 km from the plant, followed by a rural village 45 km away, and then the 30 km zone. We thought that if people lived here 24/7, we could easily spend three days with them. “When you see a snake, there is no point running away, you just need to take a step back,” a café owner in the containment zone advised us. Before setting off, we made sure we had a dosimeter to measure the radioactivity, as well as masks and protective clothing. As this other type of snake is particularly elusive and treacherous.
 
Our journey inside the wider 30km containment zone first took us to Minamisoma. A farming couple offered us coffee which we drank gingerly – wondering all the while where the water came from and if it was contaminated. The city centre was deserted, but the residents who had decided to stay appeared to be living their lives normally, talking and laughing as always. The Japanese seem to have an enormous capacity for calm.
 
We hadn’t planned to go deep into the red zone. It was Koji, an off-licence owner turned volunteer civil defence organiser who suggested the idea. We accompanied him as he made his rounds. At first he asked us to wear our masks at all times and to stay inside the car. We managed to persuade him to loosen the rules, but sitting in the back seat, I kept a close eye on the radiation monitor.
 
The entrance to the red zone wasn’t monitored. Within the perimeter, the towns were empty. We came across a city that appeared frozen in time, like a modern day Pompeii. The door of the laundrette was wide open; we could have washed our clothes if we had wanted. Piped music could still be heard playing over the intercom of a bank. But there were no clients to hear it. There wasn’t a soul in sight. And these conditions could last for months or even years. 

By Marie LINTON , Guillaume BRESSION

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-09-23 Burma

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

During a half-century of dictatorship, nearly 10,000 Burmese citizens were imprisoned for their political views. Almost all of these political prisoners suffered physical and...

Read more

2016-09-15 football

Video: African football players dream of kickstarting career in Asia

Southeast Asia is awash with football fever. New leagues and new teams are springing up everywhere - even in countries where the sport was until recently a minority pastime. To...

Read more

2016-09-08 Niger

Video: Niger’s Agadez, gateway to exile

Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, has become one of the main transit points for illegal migrants from West Africa who dream of Europe. We bring you an exceptional...

Read more

2016-09-02 India

Video: In Indian Ocean, Jarawa tribe risks dying out

For their own protection, you are not allowed to meet them. For tens of thousands of years, the Jarawa have been self-sufficient hunter-gatherers, living in harmony with nature...

Read more

2012-06-14 Colombia

From the archives: Caught in the crossfire in Colombia

On April 28 a team of Colombian commandos set out to destroy a secret drugs lab in the jungle. FRANCE 24 reporter Romeo Langlois joined them to record the mission. The patrol was...

Read more